White House seeks new tech exec

In today's Federal Newscast: Some 500 correctional officers are seeking financial justice at DoJ. Former GSA executive Sonny Hashmi uncorks his 2024 private-sec...

  • The White House is looking for a new chief information officer, but it's not the position you think it is. The Executive Office of the President is hiring a new technology executive. This CIO serves as the principal adviser and consultant to the Office of Management and Budget director and senior leadership team on all of the agency's IT programs, strategies and operations. Applications for this Senior Executive Service position are due by February 2.
  • The Federal Aviation Administration is bringing its employees back to the office more often later this month. The FAA revised its return to office plans after getting some pushback from its unions. The agency said employees with telework agreements should report to their official worksites for an average of four days each two-week pay period. That policy starts Jan. 28. The FAA is giving managers some discretion on the exact in-office requirements for their employees. Last year, the agency planned on sending its workforce back to the office for at least six days each pay period.
  • Union leaders are bringing a pay incentive issue to the attention of the Justice Department. Retention bonuses for roughly 500 correctional officers at the Federal Bureau of Prisons are gone as of the new year. But the American Federation of Government Employees and the AFL-CIO are urging the reinstatement of the 25% pay incentives. Union leaders are now calling on the Justice Department to address the issue. In a letter to the DoJ attorney general, the unions warn that removing the incentives, which have been in place since 2021, will cause staffing to decline significantly at the Thomson federal prison in Illinois. A third of officers at Thomson have already indicated plans to leave their jobs if the bonuses are not reinstated.
  • A former GSA executive didn't take long to find a new job. Sonny Hashmi, who left on December 29 as the commissioner of the Federal Acquisition Service at the General Services Administration, landed in the private sector. He is the head of public sector for Unqork, a software development platform provider. Most of the company's work has been with the private sector, but last year it started working with the Department of Health and Human Services to digitize payroll processing for one office. Hashmi comes to Unqork after spending three years leading FAS. He previously worked in industry at Box, Xerox and IBM.
  • Agencies are struggling to meet digital accessibility standards. More than three-quarters of agencies responding to a governmentwide Section 508 assessment are struggling to meet technology accessibility requirements. The results of the 2023 assessment, released by the General Services Administration, indicate that fewer than 30% of the most popular federal websites and internal sites fully conform to Section 508. GSA recommended Congress consider updating Section 508 to better define agency roles and responsibilities, and more proactively enforce compliance with digital accessibility requirements.
  • Investors in the Thrift Savings Plan saw promising returns to close out 2023. December was the second month in a row that all TSP funds posted positive returns. The S fund in particular went up more than 10% last month, and had a total return of over 23% for the year. The C fund, based on the S&P 500 index, had a final return of more than 26% for the year — the highest return of any TSP fund for 2023.
  • The Marine Corps wants more cyber experience in its formations, so it is standing up a new masters program to make that happen. It is open only to senior enlisted Marines, who already have degrees or other certifications in computer science and related fields. The members selected for the program will be sent to the Naval Postgraduate School, where they will get 18 months of education on applied cyber operations. Applications are due by Feb. 23.
  • A longtime IRS watchdog has died. Since 2004, J. Russell George served as the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration. During his tenure, TIGTA helped recover, protect or identify cost savings worth up to $325 billion. George stands out as one of the longest-serving inspectors general in the federal government. He oversaw IRS operations and served on boards that monitored emergency COVID-19 spending, as well as stimulus spending during the 2008 financial crisis.
  • Starting as soon as mid-year, small businesses will be able to claim past performances of their affiliates when bidding on Defense Department contracts. The Defense secretary has until July 1 to amend the Defense Federal Acquisition Supplement and require agencies to consider the affiliate's past performance. Starting this year, small businesses will be able to submit their affiliates’ projects to satisfy performance requirements. Currently, procuring agencies are permitted, but not required to evaluate an affiliates’ track record when considering working with small businesses.
  • Researchers are calling for a more comprehensive approach to cyber and supply chain risk management. An Air Force-commissioned report found that cybersecurity and supply chain risk management are often at odds with each other and just adding those together can increase cyber-related risks. Researchers said there are trade-offs, and understanding those trade-offs will help the Defense Department to better secure its defense industrial products supply. The report also found that private sector efforts to manage cybersecurity may not be sufficient to meet national security needs.
  • A major software industry group is recommending the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency make some big changes to its secure software development form. BSA The Software Alliance said CISA should remove the requirement for chief executives to sign off on the form. The group also urged CISA to clarify that the form should not be needed for software that is developed at the direction of a federal agency. CISA released a new draft of the attestation form in December. Once it is finalized, agencies will use the form to hold software companies accountable to meeting secure development standards.

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